Teaching Law

Sunday, 24 November 2013

How Queensland is failing to measure up to standards of accountability

Checks and balances at risk in Queensland*

Following its findings of extensive corruption in Queensland government and police service, the Fitzgerald Inquiry recommended an independent body be established, charged with investigation of corruption and crime in Queensland. 
Detailed analysis of the various common instances of other prevalent official misconduct is not called for in this report. It is sufficient to record that the evidence before this Inquiry plainly established common and, apparently, growing manifestations of other official misconduct and its central importance in facilitating major and organized crime.
The seriousness of that other official misconduct must not be overlooked. Rather it is the plainest demonstration of the need for the researched and integrated approach to organized and major crime mentioned earlier in this report.
One possible model explored by the Report was an independent commission against corruption. This was rejected because of the myriad tensions inevitably associated with it. Instead, a Criminal Justice Commission ('CJC') was recommended, to be overseen by a parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee [Part 10.2]. In 2002, the CJC merged with the Queensland Crime Commission to form the Crime and Misconduct Commission ('CMC').

As the functions of the original CJC have evolved, it is instructive, particularly in light of recent political events in Queensland, to revisit Fitzgerald's discussion of the tensions and challenges in having an independent commission against corruption. Many of his observations seem pertinent to the CMC and its relationship with the government.

In this post I will use Fitzgerald's report to provide context for why developments in Queensland are so troubling.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Forced removal of children. When will government learn?

Today's media contains the sobering news that an asylum seeker known as Latifa has been detained separately from her week old infant Farus, who is suffering respiratory problems. She is permitted to visit him between 10am-4pm but is otherwise detained with her husband and two other children. Farus' father has not been permitted to visit.

The reaction to the treatment of Latifa, Farus and their family has focused on the cruelty of separating a mother and sick infant. I agree with this assessment, but I am always interested to observe the essentialising of women's role as mother. I think that it is worthwhile to look more deeply into this picture to tease out what values are at stake in our government's treatment of this woman, her child and the child's father.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Is the Queensland government man enough to really get 'tough on crime'?

The Queensland government has launched a new phase in its 'war on bikies' through a raft of new regressive legislative provisions that criminalise association and provide for mandatory additional sentencing and automatic refusal of bail. In its 'unapologetic' 'crackdown' on 'criminal gangs' the government acknowledges that there will be 'some inconvenience' to law abiding citizens, but that if we have 'done nothing wrong, there is nothing to fear'.

In this post I ask why, if the government is really serious about getting 'tough on crime', it is not engaging in open discussion about, and introducing 'tough new measures' to deal with, domestic violence, sexual violence, violence against women. Is the law and order agenda in Queensland a gendered one?